Three Years of Togetherness

Back in April, I got a notification from WordPress informing me that I have been with this platform for three years now. Wow! I started blogging back in 2005 but it was more of a “dear diary” slash blow by blow account of all my travels and everything Kpop. Just imagine that I started in Multiply and graduated to Blogger and then jumpshipped to WordPress. My relationship with WP is better than ever. Hey, I got the WP app in smartphone!

Hestory. History.

Hestory, now a history. I was so addicted with kpop back then

Three years of maintaining this blog taught me to :

  1. Write about what you love. I don’t force myself to write something just for the sake. I feel that if I want to share something, it is straight from the heart. Right now, it is all about travels because sometimes, photos shared in Facebook or Instagram are not enough to describe what it feels like to have that first taste of cendol , the feel to be in one of the Turtle Islands or the feel to be with fellow tennis fans during the Sydney Open.

    Braving the summer heat for the Sydney Open at the Sydney Olympic Park

    Braving the summer heat for the Sydney Open at the Sydney Olympic Park

  2. Be open to suggestions. I am not your best in English blogger. I consult my besty if I what I wrote made sense. I am such a scatterbrain (most times sometimes) that my thoughts are all over. Good thing, I got my own personal editor. Cheers to you, Besty!
  3. KISS. I try to keep it short and simple because I might traumatise the reader. Similar to my albums in Facebook, I don’t load the photos (or ideas) in one go because this can scare the viewer/reader. As much as possible, I don’t use high falluting words (heck, my vocabulary is limited anyway. Those words from SAT reviewers went down the drain over the years).

I foresee that I will be writing more. Topics will be varied. Blurred photos will be less. Stories that will inspire. Definitely, posts that will not bore you to tears.

A Brand New Day

A Brand New Day

P.S. How timely that this is my 100th post! Yay!

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Eye of the Storm

More than two months have passed but images can still bring chill to my being. The thought that I will just hold on to the strongest baluster  when the water will reach us in the 2nd floor is but a dim memory. A story I can tell over and over again,though.

What started as an ordinary field work became a race to Tacloban from Borongan on 7 November to be able to get the next available flight to Manila. Unfortunately, we were not that lucky. We decided to wait for the typhoon and fly out on Saturday. We bought some supplies and I do remember having coffee at a local cafe at Robinsons.

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Night time came and winds were a bit strong. I managed to inform my boss that we were in a secured place. Morning arrived and at 5 AM, wind started to howl. I greeted ny best friend a happy birthday and had breakfast.

At 7AM, while my door was being slammed and the glass door in the brink of being pulled out by the strong wind, I peeked from the bathroom window and saw cars floating. I decided to go to my officemate’s room at the 3rd floor. I was greeted by fellow transients trapped in the stairs landing because the roof in the upper floor was destroyed.

What followed was the longest 1 hour of my life. In between prayers, I was thinking how to secure what was left of my belongings (I gave away some of my clothes) and the best place I can hold on to when the water will continuously to rise.

As fast as the wind speed, Haiyan left with major destruction. It was the strongest typhoon. And when you’re in the middle of it, all you can think of are the lessons you try to impart to the communities- severe wind, storm surge and preparedness.

A walk to the airport a day after —before the clearing operations, was like a scene from a zombie movie. People in daze. Cars over each other. Dead bodies wrapped in makeshift bodybags. Houses destroyed.
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After a walk of 12km in total to see the runway and C130 unloading goods, it was a ray of light. A long “walk to home”in my pajamas with people you don’t know. People that you share a bond with for experiencing the same harrowing event. I can’t fathom how those who were left behind were able to make it day by day. I only pray that after all these months, all will be well. It may take some time to rebuild the physical structures but I believe that the spirit of resilience will not falter among the affected people in the Visayas.

Tacloban will always remain special in my heart. May Haiyan be a lesson on the importance of preparedness not just before the storm but in the planning for the future with climate change in mind.

A Year of Travel

2013 seem so distant yet a few hours ago, everyone was celebrating like it is the last night of the world. For instance, I was on my way to Sydney (or the nearest place to be) to watch the spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks. Alas, we can’t even get near Balmain backstreets or get a parking space for people were getting ready to party. The fifteen minute spectacle was viewed in a faraway park with only the upper half of the fireworks can be seen. I knew from that moment, that I will be back in NSW – Sydney to be exact for another run of the NYE celebration.

Another run holds true for the travels I have made in 2013. My travels were more of revisiting the places I have been to in the past. Not bad for some have changed through the years. Some changed after I left. Some changed me.

January was revisiting San Vicente after a long hiatus of field work in the area. It was also a return trip to Ilocos after a long time. It reignited my love for dinuguan (blood stew) with crunchy pork strips and Batac empanada.  February was focused on Siargao for the much needed presentation of the one year work we have done in the island. March is a birthday in Guiuan, which will never be the same again. It was also an opportunity for me to visit Indonesia for the first time. Ties were binded among ASEAN representatives and German colleagues after we were holed in Bogor for nineteen days.

Windmills in Bangui

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Surf Camp in Calicoan Island, Guiuan

Dinner at Bohol Bee Farm

Dinner at Bohol Bee Farm

I am grateful with my work which showers me with travels once a month. Second quarter of the year gave me an opportunity to visit Bohol, Cagayan and Hanoi. Places you learn to love as your own. A stay in Bohol Bee Farm was all natural, including the fresh flowers as salad. Tuguegarao and its vicinities made you realize there is more to Region 2 aside from the Sierra Madre and hot weather. Hanoi was an adventure for it was my first time to negotiate with the airline staff after my luggage was left in Hongkong. It made me realise that I don’t get intimated when going out socially with people from G8 countries. (big smiley here)

Inside Callao Cave, Cagayan Province

Inside Callao Cave, Cagayan Province

Tuguegarao Church

Tuguegarao Church

It was an adventure for the women in the family when we all visited Hongkong in the height of Typhoon Utor. The storm signal no. 8 didn’t deter us from walking along Mongkok, Nathan Road, Disneyland and Lantau Island. I wish to have more trips with Nanay and Lyn in the future. After Utor/Labuyo, it was all habagat on my way to Legaspi City. Thankfully, Mayon Volcano welcomed our LGU guests with open arms (and beautiful view of the cone).

Night Market in Hongkong

Night Market in Hongkong

Magayon na Mayon, Legaspi City

Magayon na Mayon, Legaspi City

The last quarter of the year was a roller coaster ride. I experienced first hand the magnitude of Typhoon Haiyan when I was in Tacloban on the day it made landfall. I endured the nite of sleeping in cold floor, the day with minimal water to drink and the long and depressing walk out of the city. No interviews, photos and videos can describe the fear I felt from 7.30 AM to 9:00 AM on 8 November 2013 in Algo Homes in Tacloban City.

What was left of everything after Haiyan. San Jose, Tacloban City.

What was left of everything after Haiyan. San Jose, Tacloban City.

George River in NSW, Australia

George River in NSW, Australia

As they always say, there is a rainbow after the rain. What a big rainbow indeed! Christmas and New Year were spent in Australia after months of dreaming of coming back. I remembered posting that I wanted to go back there in the midst of summer. Look, I was there when Sydney reached 40s. My three week stay in a suburb, faraway from home, was an eye opener. I realize that wherever you place me, I will find a way to see the sights. I will always be a wanderer by heart.

Happy 2014! More opportunities to get lost!

Made for long walks.

Made for long walks.

A Look Back

2011 started with a not so big bang. Travel was still in the main agenda but plans didn’t take off until summer. All I had were plans…travel plans…itinerary…all drawings. I was kinda anticipating for some bigtime out of the country journey like I did in 2010 with my best travel buddy( aka my bestfriend Shirly).

Summer arrived and passed and I had a RT ticket to Dumaguete! Finally, a real R&R with a new friend to meet! I was too excited that I wanted the rainy months to arrive pronto. August was too far away.

Then, in a flash, I changed office address. No more out of the blue ticket reservations since I had an inkling I need to stay in the office more in my first few months (but I was wrong!). I never been to too many places in 6 months. And these are the places not all people can easily go. It dawned on me that: new office = more places to see.

June : Hanoi, Vietnam (and Bangkok Airport). Historical, Euro-asian, pure yumminess. I need to go back with friends to experience the sights and taste of Vietnam. Who is in for a sojourn in Ho Chi Minh?

August : Surigao del Norte and Siargao Island. Island life, best pizza, unforgettable pan de tutuy, mangrove and lakes. Looks like I will be visiting this place regularly for some work and work.

                   Dumaguete City. Secluded resort, the quaint neighboring cities, hospitality like no other. I will forever remember the day I met May and her kids. It was R and R topnotch. Of course, I ended up being good friends with Ana and Aye that I even left one of my Stitch plush toys with them to play.

          September : Siargao Island. Again! 5 days of island life doing nothing but surveys can really make you succeed in standing on a surfboard while the international surfing competition is on. I think I need to go back to see if it wasn’t a fluke.

October : Seoul, Korea. Autumn in my heart. Why do I end up in Korea during “almost winter?” Although the trip was still work related, I won’t forget the night visits to Myeong-dong and Namdaemum and soaking all Korean fashion (who can blame me, I stayed in Myeong-dong, the fashion street?) I should have horded tons of Forever 21 accessories.

October-November : Tawi-Tawi Group of Islands. It might sounded like a blah but the assessment turned out to be going to places not all can go. Case in point : Bancauan and Bancorohan for the their inaccessiblity; Baguan and Taganak Islands (aka the Turtle Islands) for exclusivity —it’s a conservation site for marine turtles.

December : Baguio City. Chilly nights, great food, new places to see. It was literally stopping from a year’s hard work to smell the flowers.

In 2012…err, this year, I am looking forward to great travels with friends and colleagues. I already got tickets for Cagayan de Oro in August. Work related trips are lined up (unfortunately, there will be NO Australian Open experience in Melbourne this year) which I have to take advantage of kahit kulang sa tulog. Of course, the SEA “backpacking” my bestriend and I are plotting at the end of the year.

Yay for 2012! May our feet lead us somewhere new and exciting!